Tied to the back of the chair by a rope that cuts into one shoulder, Timmy draws his knees to his chest and wraps his free arm around them. His face is awash with tears.
Being shackled to the closet rod, I itch to put up fight, but if I do, Paul will retaliate—as he’s threatened to do—not only against me but against the child, too.
So instead of resisting I pray, as fervently as I never did before, for someone out there to pay attention, to listen to the distress call I sent earlier. It should have gone not only to my boyfriend, Michael, who is on the airplane now, but also to the sheriff’s officer, Joe Miller, who is on the case. Did he get my call? Why isn’t he here already?
Paul tugs at my chain, making sure I’m tightly restrained. I breathe through the pain, through the sharp stings caused by having my elbow twisted behind me in an unnatural way.
Clearly basking in the demented pleasure of seeing me suffer, “I can smell you,” he says. “What have you done, Ash darling, what have you put on to turn me on like that? Some kind of deodorant?”
There is nothing I can say to that. What he smells is fear.
“It goes right to my crotch,” he adds, now in a hoarse voice. “What a zinger!”
I ignore him, but not the suffering. How can I take my mind off it?
I tell myself, you’re not here. Go elsewhere. Drift off.
Focus on something else.
No, that doesn’t work.
Yes, focus on that.
Right now, my boyfriend is on his way. Airplane mode blocks the connection to cellular networks. With no internet access, he won’t be able to even notice my call till he lands.
The flight time LAX to Clearwater, Florida is about four and a half hours. Add to that a cab ride from the airport to my place. So, in the best-case scenario, Michael may arrive about five hours from now. In the meantime, if no one else comes to rescue us, the child and I must survive, somehow, for at least that long.
On the other hand, the sheriff’s officer should be here by now. Why isn’t he? Has the call gone through? Did I program the panic button on my cellphone properly? I thought I added his private number. I should have also added 911. Too late now.
Just for good measure, the punk punches me in the belly, which makes me realize something. For the first time in this unwanted pregnancy, I pray for my baby. No longer do I think of her as a thing, a consequence forced on me by violence. I picture the innocent little one curled in my womb, sucking her thumb.
Will she survive this ordeal?
I breathe, breathe, breathe through a sense of despair.
Once Paul is done with restraining me, and the key to the chain key lock is securely tucked in his pocket, he drools into my ear. With a sinister tone, he whispers, “I got you babe.”
Startled, I turn to him and spit in his face.
“How exciting,” he says, without even bothering to wipe the spittle. “My Mama used to have the nerve to do that to my father, after he beat her. She did it to me, too. I learned not to mind it.”
I turn my head, utterly in disgust.
“Now,” he says, “comes the part I love.”
★ Love Suspense? Prepare to be thrilled ★
(Volume II of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
The last thing Ash expects when she lands in Clearwater, Florida is to be stalked by a troubled teenager. If that's not bad enough, she is caught in a shooting spree next to the nearby elementary school. The cops think it’s an attempt at mass killing, but Ash wonders if the only victim was specifically targeted by the killer. Will she manage to identify him and have him arrested before he comes after her?